Local library comic-con encourages a love of reading

COSTUMES & COMICS: “It isn’t just kids who love comics,” says librarian Lisa Hartzell. The Library-Con “is going to bring in all ages, and it is going to be an event that all ages will enjoy.” The first annual event includes panel workshops, costume contests with prizes, a video game tournament, obstacle course for the kids, artists selling and displaying work and free-comic giveaways. Photo courtesy of goo.gl/D646ac

If you’ve you ever wanted to check out a comic-book convention, but the ticket price or the distance has kept you away – now is your chance. The Haywood County Public Library in Waynesville is holding its first-ever, free Library-Con on Saturday, April 30 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Library-Con is a family-friendly event for lovers of comic books, fantasy, science fiction, movies, tv, role-playing games, anime and manga — organized by youth services librarian Lisa Hartzell.

“It was the combination of my nerdy kids and another librarian” that inspired the event, says Hartzell. Her four children loved comic books and always wanted to go to comic book conventions, but the events were often far away and expensive. Hartzell was at a library convention when a Cumberland County librarian told her about their library-based comic-book convention, and the idea for the Haywood Library-Con was born.

It took a couple of years of planning, but through help gained from word of mouth in the community and the assistance of local comic-shop connections, the con has transformed into something larger than initially expected. The event will include workshop panels on comic book history, sequential art and cosplay costuming. Beyond the workshops, there will be a video game tournament, an obstacle course for kids, an “artists alley” for artists to sell and display their work, free comic book giveaways, light snacks and a costume contest with prizes.

Like bigger comic-cons, a pivotal part of the event will be visits from special costumed guests, including characters from Star Wars, Ghostbusters, Star Trek and Batman. What’s more, everyone attending is invited to dress in family-friendly costumes, whether as a superhero or other comic-book or fantasy character. Just make sure that costumes don’t include swords, lightsabers or any other kind of pretend (or real) weapon.

While the comic book convention is all about fun, one of the main goals of the convention is to help introduce people to the full range of services the library has to offer. In addition, Hartzell believes that comics books and graphic novels are a powerful gateway to reading and critical thinking for many children.

“They are a form of literature that children relate to. It teaches them so many things — like critical thinking and sequence. The language in a lot of these graphic novels is at a higher level — so they have to know how to read and think in order to process the words. [Comics] have a huge benefit — especially for reluctant readers. Put a comic book in their hands and it really changes the way that they think about reading. Reading is fun!”

For more information and a schedule visit the library’s website, www.haywoodlibrary.org or call the library at 356-2512.

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